The Surprising Affordability of Europe

Many people have traveled and lived in other countries. My good friend, Scott Moore, has globe-trotted and lived abroad for awhile. Here he shares his knowledge and resources for experiencing Europe.

Enter Scott:

Have you ever dreamed of or are you considering living abroad? Experiencing the culinary, ethnolinguistic, and cultural diversity of Europe, but you think it’s too expensive and out of reach? Think again. Unless you’re considering the priciest locations such as Switzerland, Norway, or Monaco, much of Europe is surprisingly affordable.

In fact, the cost of living in many European cities is equal to or even much cheaper than many cities in North America and Asia. If you’ve ever given it any thought or had an inclination to move there, now is a great time to act.

At the time of this writing, the US dollar is nearly equal to the euro at 0.93, after a continuous climb since the beginning of 2015. The British pound has recently dropped to a 30 year low at 1.25 to the dollar, meaning more bang for your buck there than before. When comparing the latest cost of living indexes to other cities throughout the world, Europe can be a real bargain. Let’s take a look at the combined cost of living plus rent index rankings according to

Western Europe

In a country known for its world-class beer, cars, and efficiency, the city of Berlin and the capital of Germany is nearly equal to the cost of living plus rent in Albuquerque, New Mexico. That’s right, a diverse city on the cutting edge and all that bratwurst and sauerkraut could be yours with rents lingering around only $600/mo for a modest one bedroom apartment, and even cheaper if you decide to go with a room share.

If you prefer a region that’s famous for its fine wines, Mediterranean climate, and a bit slower pace, there’s Marseille on the beautiful southern coast of France. French cuisine and miles of beaches are attainable when the cost of living there is roughly the same as living in Athens, Georgia, or half the cost of Washington, DC.

Further west, I recently lived in the city of Leiden in the Netherlands. It is a university town filled with canals, and only a 30-minute train ride from Amsterdam and 15 minutes from the Hague and the beach. Cost of living there is roughly the equivalent of living in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Other similar living options in the Netherlands include Rotterdam and Eindhoven.

Central & Eastern Europe

Both Prague and Budapest are in the EU yet have their own currencies. They are both notorious for being very charming and alluringly romantic cities, and they are both nearly 50% cheaper than the cost of living plus rent in Sacramento, California.


Transportation in Europe is extremely efficient and accessible too, and it is possible to reach myriad other cities and regions via tram, train, air, and boat. Most public transit entities offer discounts for monthly card holders, during off-peak hours, and to students. High-speed interstate rail lines can get you from places like Amsterdam directly to Frankfurt or Paris in only a few hours for less than $90.

The options to fly can provide even more flexibility and affordability. Many budget airlines such as Ryanair and EasyJet make it possible to reach nearly any major city in Europe in less than three hours at very low rates. Roundtrip airfare from Amsterdam can easily be found to Geneva for as low as $68, Dublin $65, Milan $76, and to London for only $67 (54-minute flight).

And many cities in Europe are very walk-able and bike friendly. Indeed it is the main mode of transport for many Europeans and expats alike. Without the need to own a vehicle, this drastically cuts down on your monthly living expenses when factoring out a vehicle’s sales price, registration, insurance, repair, and fuel costs. In other words, the many efficient travel options available can increase the cost-effectiveness of your stay in Europe.

These are only a few examples of the many possibilities available to live in Europe at costs which are even lower than you may already be used to. These data have shown that the consumer prices of rent, food, dining, and travel, are, quite reasonable. When you also combine the advanced healthcare (insurance rates are low), safety, and overall quality of life, much of Europe proves to be surprisingly affordable.

Last Word

The aim of this overview is to help break down any notions or myths you may have about Europe being financially untouchable. If you are a professional, there are many multinational companies, government agencies, NGOs, non-profits, and universities hiring throughout the regions of Europe. If you are an international student, there are many state-approved student funding schemes, scholarships, and residencies available. Many options do exist; you know the saying - Seek, and thou shall find.

Hopefully, this has opened your eyes to the potential for new experiences and opportunities, and perhaps with a healthy sense of adventure, frugality, and due diligence, you might consider stepping out of your comfort zone and embark on a new and rewarding journey.